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Block Play & Pre-literacy


The main way to support pre-literacy when a child plays with blocks is by offering diverse writing materials that promote a print rich environment Items could include: Maps, architectural magazines, graph paper, pencils, clipboards, house plans, road signs, self-adhesive notes, markers, and index cards. When real-life items are provided, there is an increased level of engagement which allows for authentic learning and higher language development. Items shouldn’t be offered all at once but instead rotated every so often to maintain interest and focus. When you see your child build something, instead of saying "Good job!", try asking open-ended questions to help them make meaningful connections. Examples of open-ended questions: Tell me about your structure, What would happen if?, Tell me about..., How did you?, What else could you try?, What will the people do in your building?, How can we use these blocks to make something very long? This is keyresearch has found that the major difference between children from different socio-economic backgrounds is not the ability to use blocks but the ability to solve problems with language and explain their thinking using blocks (Sophian, 2002) So as your child makes something with blocks, take time to sit with them and ask questions about their creations. And allow them to return to their building constructions (versus always asking them to clean up). This gives them the space and time they need to process their ideas and problem solve. Our Favorite Block Play Resources:

  • Blocks and Beyond

  • Creative Block Play: A Comprehensive Guide to Learning through Building

  • Young Architects at Play: STEM Activities for Young Children

Our Favorite Picture Books related to Block Play:

When I Build With Blocks For ages 3 - 6 Step into the block area of a Pre-K / Kindergarten classroom. Transports an everyday classroom into various imaginative scenes - from outer space to the ocean.

If I Built a House For ages 4 - 8 The little wooden couple are happy in their building-block house—until it catches fire. Follow these inventive dolls as they use their imagination to adapt to each situation they encounter.

Changes, Changes For ages 3 - 5 Jack's limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.

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